According to statistics, at present there are over 200,000 students in the distance education network nationwide, and the figure is estimated to be one million in the coming three years. More and more educators agree that the universities without “walls” based on modern information technology will become another “pass” for young people to enter famous institutions of higher learning. Meanwhile, it is having a certain impact on traditional mainstream education.
In 1999, only six universities—Peking University, Qinghua University, Beijing Posts and Telecommunications University, Zhejiang University, Hunan University and the Central Radio and Television University—had network universities. During the summer vacation of 2000, nine institutions of higher learning in Beijing, including People’s University of China and the Beijing Foreign Studies University, and 16 others in Heilongjiang, Shandong and Shanghai also established network schools. At present, there are a total of 31 network universities approved by the Ministry of Education, most of them key institutions of higher learning and famous universities. In the period between October 2000 and April 2001, nearly 10,000 students from nearly 20 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities applied for the network university of People’s University of China.
Students living in remote areas and other regions with underdeveloped education are the principal beneficiaries of network universities. Network universities have also provided opportunities for unsuccessful candidates of college entrance examinations and people on the job with opportunities of receiving life-long education.
The gradual extension of broadband technology has promoted the development of network education. The satellite broadband multimedia transmission platform of China Education TV has been put in use, which is capable of broadcasting eight TV channels, eight radio channels and more than 20 IP data broadcast channels. The satellite network and the earliest Internet in China – CERNet – has realized high-speed connection, initially forming a modern interactive distance education network.